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Richard York, Christina Ergas, Eugene A. Rosa and Thomas Dietz

We examine trends since 1980 in material extraction in China, India, Indonesia, and Japan—which together contain over 40% of the world's population—to assess the environmental consequences of modernization. Economic and population growth has driven rapid expansion of material extraction in China, India, and Indonesia since 1980. China and India exhibit patterns consistent with the Jevons paradox, where the economic intensity of extraction (extraction/GDP) has steadily declined while total extraction grew. In Indonesia, extraction intensity grew along with total extraction. In Japan, total extraction remained roughly constant, increasing somewhat in the 1980s and then slowly declining after 1990, while extraction intensity declined throughout the entire period. These different patterns can be understood to some degree by drawing on political-economic and world-systems perspectives. Japan is an affluent, core nation that can afford to import materials from other nations, thereby avoiding escalation of material extraction within its borders. China and India are rapidly industrializing nations that, although increasingly drawing on resources from beyond their borders, still rely on their own natural resources for growth. Indonesia, an extraction economy with less global power than the other nations examined here, exports its own natural resources, often unprocessed, to spur economic growth. The trends highlighted here suggest that in order to avert environmental crisis, alternative forms of development, which do not involve traditional economic growth, may need to be adopted by nations around the world.

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From a Blind Spot to a Nexus

Building on Existing Trends in Knowledge Production to Study the Copresence of Ecotourism and Extraction

Veronica Davidov

Ecotourism is primarily perceived and studied as an alternative to resource extraction, even though increasingly the two coexist side by side in a nexus. This article investigates how such instances of copresence are marginalized in literatures about ecotourism and extraction, constituting a “blind spot“ in academic literature. An extensive literature review focuses on the existing knowledge trends and paradigms in the production of knowledge about ecotourism and extraction, and analyzes whether they contribute to the “blind spot“ or can be mobilized by the nexus perspective. Finally, the article briefly outlines two methodological approaches for studying ecotourism and extraction as a nexus.

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Decolonizing Development in Diné Bikeyah

Resource Extraction, Anti-Capitalism, and Relational Futures

Melanie K. Yazzie

In this article, I examine the anti-capitalist and antidevelopment politics that Diné resisters espouse in their critiques of resource extraction in the Navajo Nation. I argue that existing anthropological and historical studies about Diné resistance minimize the specifically anti-capitalist character of this resistance by erasing the capitalist underpinnings of development. I draw from Indigenous feminists, Native studies scholars, and Diné land defenders to argue that development in the form of resource extraction is a violent modality of capitalism that seeks to kill Diné life. In response to this death drive, Diné resisters have created a politics of relational life to challenge and oppose development. I examine the historical and material conditions that have given rise to this politics of relational life and suggest its central role in invigorating anticapitalist decolonization struggles.

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'It's Raining Money'

Anthropology, Film and Resource Extraction in Papua New Guinea

Emma Gilberthorpe

This article looks at the impact of money 'raining' on the indigenous hosts of a non-renewable resource extraction project in Papua New Guinea and the use of film media to record and disseminate the views of those caught up in it. 'Resource development', the gloss under which industries operate, is an ambiguous term as the cash (royalties) and services (roads, health centres, schools) accompanying resource extraction are only maintained during the life of a project. The anthropological use of film in extractive industry contexts is, I argue, an ideal methodological tool for documenting indigenous concerns, views and ambitions for a postindustry environment. Based on an ethnographic film made with the Fasu, hosts to a multinational oil extraction project in the fringe highlands, this article aims to highlight how film documentation can not only reveal the broader implications of a cash economy, but also be used by anthropologists to influence participatory research and bottom-up development. This article looks at the impact of money 'raining' on the indigenous hosts of a non-renewable resource extraction project in Papua New Guinea and the use of film media to record and disseminate the views of those caught up in it. 'Resource development', the gloss under which industries operate, is an ambiguous term as the cash (royalties) and services (roads, health centres, schools) accompanying resource extraction are only maintained during the life of a project. The anthropological use of film in extractive industry contexts is, I argue, an ideal methodological tool for documenting indigenous concerns, views and ambitions for a postindustry environment. Based on an ethnographic film made with the Fasu, hosts to a multinational oil extraction project in the fringe highlands, this article aims to highlight how film documentation can not only reveal the broader implications of a cash economy, but also be used by anthropologists to influence participatory research and bottom-up development. This article looks at the impact of money 'raining' on the indigenous hosts of a non-renewable resource extraction project in Papua New Guinea and the use of film media to record and disseminate the views of those caught up in it. 'Resource development', the gloss under which industries operate, is an ambiguous term as the cash (royalties) and services (roads, health centres, schools) accompanying resource extraction are only maintained during the life of a project. The anthropological use of film in extractive industry contexts is, I argue, an ideal methodological tool for documenting indigenous concerns, views and ambitions for a postindustry environment. Based on an ethnographic film made with the Fasu, hosts to a multinational oil extraction project in the fringe highlands, this article aims to highlight how film documentation can not only reveal the broader implications of a cash economy, but also be used by anthropologists to influence participatory research and bottom-up development. This article looks at the impact of money 'raining' on the indigenous hosts of a non-renewable resource extraction project in Papua New Guinea and the use of film media to record and disseminate the views of those caught up in it. 'Resource development', the gloss under which industries operate, is an ambiguous term as the cash (royalties) and services (roads, health centres, schools) accompanying resource extraction are only maintained during the life of a project. The anthropological use of film in extractive industry contexts is, I argue, an ideal methodological tool for documenting indigenous concerns, views and ambitions for a postindustry environment. Based on an ethnographic film made with the Fasu, hosts to a multinational oil extraction project in the fringe highlands, this article aims to highlight how film documentation can not only reveal the broader implications of a cash economy, but also be used by anthropologists to influence participatory research and bottom-up development. This article looks at the impact of money 'raining' on the indigenous hosts of a non-renewable resource extraction project in Papua New Guinea and the use of film media to record and disseminate the views of those caught up in it. 'Resource development', the gloss under which industries operate, is an ambiguous term as the cash (royalties) and services (roads, health centres, schools) accompanying resource extraction are only maintained during the life of a project. The anthropological use of film in extractive industry contexts is, I argue, an ideal methodological tool for documenting indigenous concerns, views and ambitions for a postindustry environment. Based on an ethnographic film made with the Fasu, hosts to a multinational oil extraction project in the fringe highlands, this article aims to highlight how film documentation can not only reveal the broader implications of a cash economy, but also be used by anthropologists to influence participatory research and bottom-up development. This article looks at the impact of money 'raining' on the indigenous hosts of a non-renewable resource extraction project in Papua New Guinea and the use of film media to record and disseminate the views of those caught up in it. 'Resource development', the gloss under which industries operate, is an ambiguous term as the cash (royalties) and services (roads, health centres, schools) accompanying resource extraction are only maintained during the life of a project. The anthropological use of film in extractive industry contexts is, I argue, an ideal methodological tool for documenting indigenous concerns, views and ambitions for a postindustry environment. Based on an ethnographic film made with the Fasu, hosts to a multinational oil extraction project in the fringe highlands, this article aims to highlight how film documentation can not only reveal the broader implications of a cash economy, but also be used by anthropologists to influence participatory research and bottom-up development.

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Social Lives and Symbolic Capital

Indigenous ‘Oil Lawsuits’ as Sites of Order and Disorder Making

Veronica Davidov

Lawsuits are representational arenas, as well as legal events. They serve as integrative spaces for power relations, symbolic orders, and moral economies. This article focuses on the ‘social lives’ of two lawsuits brought by indigenous communities to litigate issues arising from oil extraction on their territories: the Texaco lawsuit in the Ecuadorian Amazon and the Beaver Lake Cree Nation lawsuit in Alberta, Canada. I analyze the narratives of indigeneity and modernity that they challenge, as well as their potential to order and disorder social fabrics beyond the legal sphere. I argue that lawsuits are ethnographic dramas that make visible how various social actors ‘order’ the world into categories, such as ‘value’, ‘modernity’, ‘commons’, and ‘sovereignty’, and in the process render legible the constructed nature of symbolic life.

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Natural Resources by Numbers

The Promise of “El uno por mil” in Ecuador’s Yasuní-ITT Oil Operations

Amelia Fiske

In 2013, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa announced the end of the Yasuní-ITT initiative. The initiative had proposed to combat climate change by not exploiting oil reserves in one section of the Yasuní National Park. Anticipating outcry, Correa promised that operations would affect less than one thousandth of the park, or “menos del uno por mil.” This article examines the role of numerical calculations in the governance of subterranean resources. Numbers do a particular kind of labor to rationalize the shift contained in the Yasuní-ITT initiative that rhetoric alone does not. Metrics such as el uno por mil constitute and translate between diverse realms of value. Yet, contrary to the assumption that numbers are derived from strictly technical, expert processes, I show how such metrics are fundamental to translations between incalculable matters of nature, the future, and the “good” when deployed in contests over the effects of oil on life.

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The Angry Earth

Wellbeing, Place and Extractivism in the Amazon

Juan Pablo Sarmiento Barletti

In this article, I argue for a broadening of the conceptualisation of wellbeing in the scholarly and policy literature on the topic. I do so as, despite the calls for the inclusion of place in analyses of wellbeing, the literature on the topic still carries a dominant conception of wellbeing as a measurable index based on Euro-American practices and discourses, with their associated views of humanity and nature. I will advance the discussion on wellbeing’s intimate connection to place and place-based consciousness through an ethnographic engagement with kametsa asaiki (‘living well together’), an ethos of wellbeing pursued by indigenous Ashaninka people in the Peruvian Amazon. This is a revealing context as Peru exemplifies how extractive development initiatives tend to misrecognise or underestimate their socio-natural consequences on local pursuits of wellbeing. I argue that an understanding of the role of place and place-based consciousness in wellbeing is key to enhancing the concept’s utility in policy and practice, especially due to its centrality in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In doing so, I call for further ethnographic explorations of the link between wellbeing models and understandings of humanity and nature.

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Olga A. Murashko

Indigenous peoples of the Russian North, Siberia, and the Russian Far East are increasingly demanding that proponents of industrial projects carry out an etnologicheskaia ekspertiza (anthropological expert review or ethno-cultural impact assessment) of their project, in order to assess the socio-economic and cultural impacts on local and indigenous communities living close to project sites. However, there is a lack of an appropriate legislative framework in Russia, no established methodology, and a lack of understanding among stakeholders about what an etnologicheskaia ekspertiza is. The established Russian environmental impact assessment process (requiring a state ecological expert review of projects) does not include assessment of socio-economic and cultural impacts on communities. In this article the author discusses the concept of etnologicheskaia ekspertiza and the context that gave rise to it, shares her practical experience, and makes recommendations for establishing a legal framework for etnologicheskaia ekspertiza, with reference to comparable Western concepts, such as social and cultural impact assessment.

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Extracción de petróleo y transformaciones socioterritoriales

Comunidad Emiliano Zapata, Veracruz, Mexico

Irvin Aguilar León

*Full Article is in Spanish

English abstract:

This article responds to the question: how do the inhabitants of a community perceive the transformations of their territory associated with oil extraction policy in Mexico that are defined and upheld by prevailing political-economic trends? Oil extraction in Mexico has only highlighted the importance of oil as a main element of the country’s economic development. This situation contributes to the invisibility of the harmful eff ects in the territories where extraction takes place. The article focuses on the analysis of seven socioterritorial transformations that took place in the socio-cultural, socio-economic, socio-political and socio-environmental context of the Emiliano Zapata community. The perception of the inhabitants regarding the oil extraction activities that take place in their community shows they have been negatively impacted by sociocultural and socio-environmental contexts.

Spanish abstract:

Este artículo tiene como objetivo responder a la pregunta: ¿cómo perciben los pobladores de una comunidad las transformaciones de su territorio asociadas a una política de extracción de petróleo en México, defi nida y adecuada con base en las tendencias político-económicas imperantes? La extracción de petróleo en México ha destacado la importancia del petróleo como elemento principal del desarrollo económico del país. Esta situación contribuye a invisibilizar los efectos nocivos en territorios donde tiene lugar su extracción. El artículo analiza siete transformaciones socioterritoriales ocurridas en el contexto sociocultural, socioeconómico, sociopolítico y socioambiental de la comunidad Emiliano Zapata. La percepción de los pobladores en torno a las actividades de extracción de petróleo que tienen lugar en su comunidad evidencia que han impactado negativamente su contexto sociocultural y socioambiental.

French abstract:

Cet article a pour objectif de répondre à la question suivante : comment les habitants d’une communauté mexicaine perçoivent-ils les transformations de leur territoire associées à une politique d’extraction pétrolière qui est défi nie et adaptée en fonction des tendances politiques et économiques actuelles ? L’auteur prend comme point de référence la politique d’extraction pétrolière au Mexique, à partir de l’expropriation pétrolière de 1937 et jusqu’à la dernière Réforme énergétique de 2013, période caractérisée essentiellement par l’importance du pétrole comme un élément de développement économique du pays. Cett e situation contribue à invisibiliser les eff ets nocifs dans les territoires d’extraction. L’article centre l’analyse autour de sept transformations sociales du territoire qui surgissent dans le contexte culturel, économique, politique et environnemental de la communauté Emiliano Zapata, qui se trouve au centre des opérations d’un gisement pétrolier.

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Extractive Conservation

Peasant Agroecological Systems as New Frontiers of Exploitation?

Anne Cristina de la Vega-Leinert and Peter Clausing

In view of the Aichi international policy targets to expand areas under conservation, we analyze to what extent conservation has become an inherent element of extraction. We scrutinize the Land Sparing versus Land Sharing debate by explicitly incorporating environmental justice issues of access to land and natural resources. We contend that dominant conservation regimes, embedded within Land Sparing, legitimize the displacement of local people and their land use to compensate for distant, unsustainable resource use. In contrast, the Land Sharing counternarrative, by promoting spatial integration of conservation in agroecological systems, has the potential to radically challenge extraction. Common ground emerges around the concept of sustainable intensification. We contend that if inserted in green economy’s technocentric and efficiency-oriented framework, sustainable intensification will contribute to undermining diversified peasant agroecological systems by transforming them into simplified, export-orientated ones, thereby stripping peasant communities of the capacity to provide for their own needs.